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Ciena 2018 Predictions: Network Automation Provides New Market Opportunities

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Tim Pearson, Senior Director of SDN, NMS and Tools for Ciena

Network Automation Provides New Market Opportunities

This year was exciting for the telecommunications industry, but 2018 will be unlike any other. As service providers grapple with forces the pace of innovation, the network is moving expeditiously to becoming automated and intelligent enough to make decisions on its own; an increasingly important requirement to handle ever evolving bandwidth demands. In the new year, the fundamental drivers for more bandwidth - continued growth in Internet of Things (IoT), mobility and other high-bandwidth services - will remain strong.

Here are three areas we predict to be prevalent in our industry as the autonomous, programmable network takes root in 2018:

Bandwidth demand will continue to surge

Demand for bandwidth availability is exploding rapidly across the globe. Both network operators and Internet content providers are seeking cost reductions as their customers demand more bandwidth, at higher densities and at lower costs. According to a report by ACG research, peak period bandwidth

requirements continue to grow at a 52% CAGR, making operator management of bandwidth a continued focus. Operators will still carry the responsibility to ensure that the network can support the amount of data traversing the network as use of advanced applications by users continuously increases. We will continue to see the development of new technologies that get us closer to virtualized, demand-driven networks with the potential to reshape whole industries from anywhere on the planet.   

Service orchestration and network virtualization

In the coming year, the trend of reducing dependency on hardware will accelerate within service provider networks as they take advantage of open APIs and agile programming tools to deliver new services more quickly.

Additionally, expect providers to continue to face challenges with the deployments of virtual network functionality (VNF). Currently, there is a lack of commercial incentive among technology vendors to collaborate on VNF because of the extensive operational challenges of deployment - including everything from operations, administration, maintenance (OAM), ownership of failure modes, and managing unique software licensing solutions per vendor. Yet a cohesive infrastructure is required to deliver solutions to the service provider industry. If the industry wants to get serious about VNF, then collaboration and standards (de facto or otherwise) will have to be developed that take into account practical deployment challenges. 

A need for a demand-driven infrastructure to support 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Multi-layer orchestration has been a nascent requirement in networks for a long time. Previously, in the attempt to find cost reductions, network operators ended up competing with product innovations and price reductions at various network layers, which inevitably delivered more functionality and lower costs rather than the integration benefits. As a result, minimal progress was made and few networks today operate with multi-layer integration.

In 2018, a new driver will soon emerge in multi-layer integration - virtual network functionality integrated with transport layer agility. Providers will need to adopt a demand- driven network where bandwidth is supplied based on real-time customer requirement, rather than on a planned view of what should be required. We expect a demand-driven infrastructure will be a requirement to support high bandwidth consumer applications like 5G as well as massively distributed IoT networks.

The chase for the autonomous network brings upon a "once in a lifetime" opportunity for the respective players in the market - those that don't recognize these market opportunities, may be left in the dust. The proliferation of more advanced applications in increasing use by customers in 2018 requires that network operators infuse even more intelligence into the network to support the new levels of demand unlike seen in previous years. Developing increasingly intelligent networks, deploying advanced software solutions and the quest to accomplish it all at a fair price will be the name of the game for network operators in the new year.


About the Author

tim pearson 

Tim Pearson is Senior Director of SDN, NMS and Tools for Ciena where he leads a team responsible for the strategic planning and development of autonomous networking software solutions. 

Since joining Ciena in 2009, Tim has performed several product management roles in the development of the company's optical networking products including roles in both hardware platform development and network management functions.  Prior to Ciena Tim worked at Nortel where he led business development for optical platforms in Japan and managed teams developing multi-service switching platforms.

Tim received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Memorial University, a Master of Management Science degree from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from MIT Sloan School.  

Published Tuesday, December 26, 2017 6:49 AM by David Marshall
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